Blue-Tinged LED Street Lights Linked With Higher Cancer Rates

By Gary Cutlack on at

Researchers have linked the modern form of LED street lighting to higher rates of breast and prostate cancer, in a grim development that could have repercussions for everything we look at in today's backlit world.

The study, assembled in part by academics at the University of Exeter, warns of a "significant increase" in levels of breast and prostate cancer among people living in cities and exposed to high levels of bluish LED light, saying it found heavy exposure to LED lighting doubled the risk of prostate cancer and led to a 1.5 times higher risk of breast cancer.

But it's OK as curtains would seem to be the answer, as the data suggests that keeping rooms darker by shuttering out the light at night lowered risk levels. The thinking is that disrupted sleep results in lower melatonin production which through some unknown mechanism might make the body more vulnerable to the cancers.

The stats didn't cover LED light exposure from smartphone and computer use, although the researchers warn that: "We must also investigate whether night-time exposure to the blue light emitted by smartphones and tablets increases our risk of cancer. We must now improve our research methods to ensure this is robust so we can advise on how best to protect human health." [University of Exeter]